Talking Cars (HQ)

Our end-of-the-year episode highlights testers’ personal highs and lows of the year. These cars don’t necessarily bracket our formal ratings, but they stand out in our collective memory. We really like cars that balance sport and practicality, with positive votes for the Porsche Macan, BMW M235i, and Volkswagen Golf/GTI. Minority votes also went to the Range Rover, Subaru Outback, and Chevrolet SS. Cars that made our least-liked list generally promised more than they delivered. Despite its storied marque, several of us dissed the Maserati Ghibli for falling short of luxury sport car expectations. Other cars earning brickbats include the Chrysler 200, Mercedes-Benz GLA and CLA, and the Infiniti Q50. Reaching beyond 2014, some of us dug up some older-introduced cars that still bug them today.

Direct download: 1412ATC_Talking_Cars_Episode_57_HQ.mp4
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00pm EST

Some car buyers emphasize practicality, while others prioritize driving fun. This episode of Talking Cars spans those extremes. First off, we take a look at the updated 2015 Toyota Sienna and redesigned 2015 Kia Sedona. While we applaud the space - and child-appeasing gadgetry - of minivans, we also note that SUVs are catching up or surpassing them in fuel economy. Next, we answer two viewer questions about what makes a car really fun to drive. Great steering plays an important role, but it isn't everything. Neither is the ever-increasing size of cars, despite a viewer's passionate pleas otherwise.

Direct download: 1412ATD_Talking_Cars_Episode_56_HQ.mp4
Category:general -- posted at: 3:00pm EST

Two bite-sized German luxury SUVs face off in this episode of Talking Cars. While the Audi Q3 sticks to many of the brand qualities you'd expect, the Mercedes falls short in refinement. We talk about the market situations that created these cars, and how crowded the SUV market gets around this pricepoint. Next, the super-popular Honda CR-V gets an update for 2015, including a CVT and an infuriating radio. Moving on to a Canadian-themed bunch of questions, we help a viewer pick a comfy sedan. Finally, we wrap up by comparing the Volkswagen Golf and the Mazda3.

Direct download: 1412ATC_Talking_Cars_Episode_55_HQ.mp4
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00pm EST

Modern-day muscle cars dominate this episode of Talking Cars, as we discuss the new 2015 Ford Mustang and updated Dodge Challenger. The gang debates who will buy which car, but everyone agrees that the Mustang has dramatically upped its game. Next, we detail the problems suffered by the Scion FR-S and Subaru BRZ as determined by our reliability survey data. Another viewer takes offense to Tom's frequent mentions of interior quality. A viewer question asks us to discuss the Acura TLX, but without comparing it to a Honda Accord. We try, and mostly succeed. Finally, we suggest alternatives to a BMW X3. 

Direct download: Talking_Cars_S01E54_HQ.mp4
Category: -- posted at: 12:00pm EST

New truck news takes over this episode of Talking Cars. Ford updates the truck-based Expedition; we discuss how the extended-length EL version compares to the Chevrolet Suburban and GMC Yukon XL. The Ford's high point: its new EcoBoost 3.5-liter V6. Next, we sample GM's new compact truck, the GMC Canyon and its twin Chevrolet Colorado. We're impressed overall, but buyers expecting the driving experience of a car-based crossover SUV in this truck might be disappointed. (Like Tom is.) Plenty of viewers asked questions about our reliability data. One protests factoring infotainment systems into vehicle reliability, while another asks about improving reliability in a car's later model years. We answer a question about the Scion FR-S/Subaru BRZ vs. the Honda Civic Si. Funny how that question helps us answer another viewer's query about a reliable coupe for under $20,000. The gang struggles - only for a bit - to choose between the Honda Accord V6 and the Acura TLX. Finally, we tease next week's episode, featuring the Dodge Challenger.

Direct download: 1411ATC_Talking_Cars_Episode_53_HQ.mp4
Category: -- posted at: 12:00pm EST

With over one million vehicles spanning back a decade, Consumer Reports' annual reliability survey gives us plenty to talk about. Once again, most reliable brand status goes to Lexus and Toyota. For a change, some good news for GM: they're the most reliable domestic automaker. Ford rebuilds after a crop of extensive - and unreliable - redesigns. Fiat-Chrysler struggles with the problematic Jeep Cherokee and Grand Cherokee. Not all Japanese brands are reliable; Mazda and Subaru do well with launching reliable cars. Nissan is in a deep slump, with the Altima proving unreliable in its second year and problems at Infiniti. Audi makes the top five most reliable brand list, but Mercedes-Benz gets drug down by the CLA and S-Class. We wrap up by looking at the latest reliability info on the Tesla Model S.

Direct download: 1410ATC_Talking_Cars_Episode_52_HQ.mp4
Category: -- posted at: 12:45pm EST

Once again, Tesla makes the news, this time by adding all-wheel-drive and a high-performance version of the Model S, as well as some capabilities that verge on self-driving. More important for more people, Toyota updates the 2015 Camry, but the bulk of the changes are skin-deep. A recent AAA study suggests they're distracting, and perhaps dangerous - but we suggest there's more to the question. One possible solution might be Apple's CarPlay, and we try it out at the track. Viewer questions about our wardrobes (really) and affordable used pickups come next. Finally, we ask for help with naming our online videos.

Direct download: Talking_Cars_S01E51_HQ.mp4
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00pm EST

We're celebrating our 50th episode of Talking Cars! This reader-question-only episode is our way of saying "thanks" to all of our fans, and even some of our naysayers. Can our talkative bunch answer 15 questions in 15 minutes? As you'd expect, topics covered are diverse: We correct our error about automatic 4wd availability in the 2015 Ford F-150, talk Ford Mustang history, discuss the state of Nissan (and our tendency to ignore them), revisit the Subaru WRX, and seriously wonder about buying a Ram 1500 diesel for New York City.

Direct download: Talking_Cars_S01E50_HQ.mp4
Category: -- posted at: 12:00pm EST

Redesigning the top-selling vehicle in America is already fraught with peril. But taking a big leap in materials and engines is another thing altogether. We discuss the new 2015 Ford F150 pickup and the impact of its aluminium body and downsized engines. Ford's EcoBoost 2.7-liter turbo V6 might be half the size of rival truck engines, but with 325 hp and 375 lbft of torque in a 5,060 pound truck, it sure doesn't feel like it. We also answer viewer questions about upscale sedans, including the Volvo S60 and Buick Regal.

Direct download: Talking_Cars_S01E49_HQ.mp4
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00pm EST

Most electric and plug-in hybrids have an image problem, seen as earnest transportation pods. The BMW i8 shatters that stereotype, earning attention normally reserved for Italian exotics but with a particularly modern sensibility. We talk about driving this very high-tech car. Wrapping up, we answer some critical YouTube comments about our Subaru WRX review. 

Direct download: Talking_Cars_S01E48_HQ.mp4
Category: -- posted at: 12:00pm EST

This episode features a special car - the new 2015 Ford Mustang - and a special guest, Wayne Carini from Chasing Classic Cars. Wayne and CR's Jake Fisher talk about Mustangs through the years, how the car's evolved, and how classic cars compare to today's technology-laden wonders.

Direct download: Talking_Cars_S01E47_HQ.mp4
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00pm EST

Long an enthusiast favorite, the latest Subaru WRX certainly puts down the numbers in testing at the Consumer Reports track. Whether the car is a livable daily driver, or much fun out on the open road, proves to be another issue entirely. Next we discuss the new 2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata; everyone now knows what it looks like and that it's lighter, but not much else. Reader questions about modifying engine computers to game CR tests and our non-housebroken Ford Transit Connect are answered. Lastly, we have a new top-rated pickup truck: the Ram 1500 EcoDiesel. It proves satisfying for far more than just its impressive fuel economy. 

Direct download: Talking_Cars_S01E46_HQ.mp4
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00pm EST

It's a decidedly practical episode of Talking Cars, talking all about boxes on wheels. First up, a viewer question asks about the Ford Transit Connect. Consumer Reports just finished testing one, so we have plenty to say. Other viewers ask about minivans, including why they don't have diesels, and why no one ever mentions the Nissan Quest. 

Direct download: Talking_Cars_S01E45_HQ.mp4
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00pm EST

It's one of the most frequently-asked questions that we get at Talking Cars: what's a good car to buy for a newly-licensed teen driver? We talk about the essentials, including why electronic stability control is so important. Viewer comments also point out some common concerns, opinions, and misconceptions about good cars for teens. Finally, we discuss the role of advanced driver training and where our vehicle recommendations overlap with the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety - and where they deviate.

Direct download: Talking_Cars_S01E44_HQ.mp4
Category: -- posted at: 12:00pm EST

They both have rear hatches: that's about all that the Honda Fit and Porsche Macan share. Each occupies totally different places in the value vs. practicality scale. The Honda Fit might just be the most practical car you can buy, especially given the price. But we don't all agree on the car's refinement. At the other extreme, our Porsche Macan costs over $63,000, but proves to be a rather satisfying guilty pleasure. In between, we discuss test results for the Chevrolet Suburban, Chevy Tahoe, and GMC Yukon. A lot hinges on equipping these big SUVs with one particular option: GM's magnetic ride control.

Direct download: Talking_Cars_S01E43_HQ.mp4
Category: -- posted at: 12:00pm EST

Sure, the electric Tesla Model S is the top-scoring car in Consumer Reports ratings, and their owners love them. But over 15,000 miles of driving, the Model S we bought has had more than a few problems. We talk about those issues, public reaction, and what it all means. Next we discuss another electric car, the BMW i3. It's unlike any BMW you've ever seen. Bringing things back to more "normal" cars, we introduce our 2015 Subaru Outback test car. Subaru's been listening, because they fixed a lot of the shortcomings in previous Outbacks. Finally, we answer whether a first-time new car buyer should get an Outback and plan ahead for kids.

Direct download: Talking_Cars_S01E42_HQ.mp4
Category:general -- posted at: 4:00pm EST

Flogging a new F80 BMW M3 around the Consumer Reports test track proves to be a good time, but the jury's out about how much fun it is on the street. A Lexus owner complains about CR's complaints about their controls, leading to an inadvertent iPad mistake that shows the dangers of complex controls when driving, or recording a podcast. A viewer asks about buying a small crossover and if buying one from an upscale brand is worth it to him. Finally, a young viewer has the chance to get a free Range Rover for his first car.

Direct download: Talking_Cars_S01E41_HQ.mp4
Category:general -- posted at: 12:30pm EST

Lexus finally jumps into the upscale small SUV fray with their new NX -- we determine that it's far more than a fancy Toyota RAV4. Moving on to viewer comments and questions, our comments on the Volkswagen GTI still bring us grief. A viewer asks how to get into the auto journalism business. Finally, we talk about the seldom-mentioned Nissan Altima.

Direct download: Talking_Cars_S01E40_HQ.mp4
Category: -- posted at: 3:00pm EST

Our last episode about the Volkswagen GTI ignited some controversy, so we answer follow-up questions about this important car for enthusiasts. Older GTIs appear in the questions too, as a viewer decides whether to keep his VW or get a new 2015 Ford Mustang. Turns out he's not the only viewer interested in Ford's new pony car. Another viewer wants something good for a strict $18,000 budget, and he's helped out by his fellow YouTube commenters. Finally we make a pick between a Subaru Outback and an aging Honda Odyssey for a family road trip.

Direct download: Talking_Cars_S01E39_HQ.mp4
Category: -- posted at: 3:00pm EST

We're car enthusiasts here at Consumer Reports, so we got rather excited by the arrival of our new 2015 Volkswagen Golf GTI test car. While it's a very nice car indeed, some of us have mixed feelings about this more mature hot hatch. Moving on to YouTube questions, we finally answer a patient viewer's question about which three-row SUV to buy. Another viewer asks about buying a truck for his 18-year old son -- our answer probably won't win many popularity points. Finally, we answer a viewer's question about a good American sedan with all-wheel-drive.

Direct download: Talking_Cars_S01E38_HQ.mp4
Category: -- posted at: 3:00pm EST

Two new Hyundais join the Consumer Reports test fleet, a Genesis luxury sedan and Sonata midsized sedan. Both make for favorable first impressions but for different reasons. We then jump into a bunch of reader questions. A lot of people commented on fuel economy, eco modes, and driving behavior, so we sort that all out. Finally, two letters ask about buying sedans for sons.

Direct download: Talking_Cars_S01E37_HQ.mp4
Category: -- posted at: 3:00pm EST

GM recalls keep coming, with another 6.5 million cars recalled for various problems including ignition issues. We talk about how these recalls illustrate the perils of cost-cutting, and suggest that GM stop building cars with ignition keys altogether. After just a few months on the job, GM’s CEO Mary Barra probably wishes she was in Alan Mulally’s shoes. He retired today as Ford’s CEO, stepping down as a lauded hero after basically mortgaging and saving the company. We discuss the impact this had on Ford’s products in the eight years of his tenure. Finally, taking a break from industry news, we answer a viewer question about buying a BMW 3-Series as a second family car.

Direct download: Talking_Cars_S01E36_HQ.mp4
Category: -- posted at: 3:00pm EST

Two iconic sports cars square off at the Consumer Reports test track - the Chevrolet Corvette and the Porsche 911. The engineers and technicians who did the testing talk about how each car performs at the track and they name their favorites. Since a new Corvette or 911 is out of reach for most of us, we also answer a reader question about affordable rear-wheel-drive sports cars.

Direct download: Talking_Cars_S01E35_HQ.mp4
Category: -- posted at: 3:00pm EST

Fuel efficient cars and their manufacturers are all in the news this week. Tesla announces that other car companies can use their patents, hoping to spur innovation in electric cars by mainstream manufacturers. Of course it winds up being a PR coup too. Ford's PR isn't as rosy as they announce errors in calculating fuel economy for their hybrids, leading to changes in the EPA numbers on their window stickers and goodwill payments to customers. We then answer some viewer questions about buying a good mid-sized family sedan that will go the distance, plus respond to a YouTube commenter who doesn't quite get the idea of a show called "Talking Cars."

Direct download: Talking_Cars_S01E34_HD.mp4
Category: -- posted at: 3:00pm EST

Direct download: Talking_Cars_S01E34_HQ.mp4
Category: -- posted at: 3:00pm EST

Two new Mini Coopers join the Consumer Reports test fleet. They might look familar on the outside but the little car gets some big changes underneath, including a three-cylinder engine. Then we answer viewer comments and questions. A viewer asks if, despite our negative comments in the last two shows, GM made any improvements in the redesigned Chevrolet Tahoe/Suburban and GMC Yukon. They did, but they get overshadowed. We take a crack at defining "German engineering" and Jon gets flack for saying the PT Cruiser is a bad car. Ned Flanders, Yugos, granola bars, and the awesome Chevrolet SS all finish out this episode.

Direct download: Talking_Cars_S01E33_HQ.mp4
Category: -- posted at: 3:00pm EST

It's a thorny question: what is the worst car of all time? We give our answers based on personal experience and our years of testing cars at Consumer Reports. Our viewers also chime in with their picks. Unsurprisingly, the list takes on a more modern bent with several frequently named contenders: Yugo, Pontiac Aztek, and Chevrolet Vega, to name a few. We finish up responding to viewer comments about our discussion of the Chevrolet Tahoe and GMC Yukon.

Direct download: Talking_Cars_S01E32_HQ.mp4
Category: -- posted at: 3:00pm EST

Two big new test cars join the Consumer Reports fleet: the Chevrolet Tahoe and Suburban. We also drive the GMC Yukon Denali XL and Cadillac Escalade. First impressions are that these big SUVs might be something of a disappointment, but there's no question that they get expensive. We then tell the conflicting tales of two BMW coupes: a 435i press car and our fabulous M235i test car. Then we discuss a BMW 2-Series competitor, the Audi A3. Finally we ask our viewers to weigh in on a question: what is the worst car of all time?

Direct download: Talking_Cars_S01E31_HQ.mp4
Category: -- posted at: 3:00pm EST

From the floor of the New York Auto Show, we discuss the big introductions. The Toyota Camry goes for style while the Hyundai Sonata gets more practical. Kia rolls out the redesigned Sedona minivan and Subaru refines the Outback. Jake and Gabe agree on a favorite car of the show, the Alfa Romeo 4C, while Tom pines after the not-done-yet new Mazda Miata.

Direct download: Talking_Cars_S01E30_HQ.mp4
Category: -- posted at: 3:00pm EST

Test results are in for the Toyota Highlander, both in Consumer Reports tests and crash tests done by IIHS. Some midsized SUVs did poorly in the crash test, causing them to lose their recommendation. We also talk about the new Chrysler 200 and Tom rants about Jimmy Fallon's pickup truck choice.

Direct download: Talking_Cars_S01E29_HQ.mp4
Category: -- posted at: 3:00pm EST

The GM ignition switch recall mess has been front page news, including Congressional hearings. Jake Fisher and Tom Mutchler discuss the issues, including cost cutting on Chevrolet Cobalt and its siblings and why safety issues should cause prompt recalls. We also discuss what it will take for GM to repair its image.

Direct download: Talking_Cars_S01E28_HQ.mp4
Category: -- posted at: 3:00pm EST

When you're spending your hard-earned money on a car, we think you deserve a good one - and some models are better than others. This episode focuses on those models we think you should avoid, presented by category. Don't confuse this with a list of the "worst cars." Cars like the BMW 7-Series and Ford Taurus certainly aren't among the worst cars out there, but they are bad choices within their respective market segments.

Direct download: Talking_Cars_S01E27_HQ.mp4
Category: -- posted at: 3:00pm EST

A three-cylinder Ford Fiesta and four-cylinder Chevrolet Impala question how many cylinders are enough. No question that six cylinders are enough for our great-sounding Maserati Ghibli - after all, they come from Ferrari. We then talk about the new Jeep Renegade and answer viewer comments about the Chevrolet Volt, Tesla Model S, Subaru Outback, and (once again) the Dodge Durango.

Direct download: Talking_Cars_S01E26_HQ.mp4
Category: -- posted at: 3:00pm EST

We announce our Top Pick list for 2014 highlighting the best choices in ten different categories. Selected vehicles scored well in our extensive tests and have proven reliable and safe. This year's list has five new choices including the Tesla Model S. We also talk about cars that came close but didn't quite make the list. Moving on, we answer reader questions about picking a family car in snowy Minnesota and the best three-row hauler. Finally, we announce our new Maserati Ghibli test car.

Direct download: Talking_Cars_S01E25_HQ.mp4
Category: -- posted at: 2:00pm EST

Long-awaited test results are finally in for the Jeep Cherokee and Mazda3. While the Cherokee is ultimately disappointing, labeled as "not done yet," the Mazda3 proves to be impressive. We also talk about the new Toyota Highlander and the most expensive test car we've ever bought, the Mercedes-Benz S550.

Direct download: Talking_Cars_S01E24_HQ.mp4
Category: -- posted at: 2:00pm EST

Quietly clattering its way into the second top-scoring spot in our Ratings, the Mercedes-Benz E250 BlueTec gets a awful lot right - until you get to the price. We then show off our new Chevrolet SS, which has a surprise or two up its sleeve. Two very different Subaru Imprezas are at the track - the XV Crosstrek Hybrid and the new high-performance WRX. We then answer a bunch of viewer questions about testing fancy cars and why Tom is so mean to Jon. Finally, we tackle a question that haunts the ages: which is more fun, the Ford Fiesta ST or the Subaru BRZ/Scion FR-S?

Direct download: Talking_Cars_S01E23_HQ.mp4
Category: -- posted at: 2:00pm EST

We cover all the news from the 2014 Detroit Auto Show floor! Ford launches their new F-150, very big news indeed. Chrysler finally gets in the midsized sedan game with the new 200. Super-small luxury SUVs take over, including the Audi Q3 and Mercedes GLA. Chevrolet gives the Corvette what it really needed (ha ha) - the more powerful Z06. And Honda rolls out a new Fit.

Direct download: Talking_Cars_S01E22_HQ.mp4
Category: -- posted at: 2:00pm EST

1